63 books like The Zero

By Jess Walter,

Here are 63 books that The Zero fans have personally recommended if you like The Zero. 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 Quiet American

David Hagerty Author Of They Tell Me You Are Wicked

From my list on political crime fiction.

Who am I?

I grew up in Chicago in the waning days of Mayor Richard J. Daley’s machine, which politicized everything from schools to loading zones. Everyone—whether they were civil servants or small business owners—had to pledge loyalty to Da Boss, Hizzoner, or suffer the consequences. As a result, I’ve always gravitated to crime stories with a political element, one showing the effects of big conflicts on regular people. And I’ve written about the same. 

David's book list on political crime fiction

David Hagerty Why did David love this book?

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.

By Graham Greene,

Why should I read it?

10 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…


Book cover of The Bonfire of the Vanities

David Hagerty Author Of They Tell Me You Are Wicked

From my list on political crime fiction.

Who am I?

I grew up in Chicago in the waning days of Mayor Richard J. Daley’s machine, which politicized everything from schools to loading zones. Everyone—whether they were civil servants or small business owners—had to pledge loyalty to Da Boss, Hizzoner, or suffer the consequences. As a result, I’ve always gravitated to crime stories with a political element, one showing the effects of big conflicts on regular people. And I’ve written about the same. 

David's book list on political crime fiction

David Hagerty Why did David love this book?

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.

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…


Book cover of Lie in the Dark

David Hagerty Author Of They Tell Me You Are Wicked

From my list on political crime fiction.

Who am I?

I grew up in Chicago in the waning days of Mayor Richard J. Daley’s machine, which politicized everything from schools to loading zones. Everyone—whether they were civil servants or small business owners—had to pledge loyalty to Da Boss, Hizzoner, or suffer the consequences. As a result, I’ve always gravitated to crime stories with a political element, one showing the effects of big conflicts on regular people. And I’ve written about the same. 

David's book list on political crime fiction

David Hagerty Why did David love this book?

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.

Book cover of The Secret Agent

David Hagerty Author Of They Tell Me You Are Wicked

From my list on political crime fiction.

Who am I?

I grew up in Chicago in the waning days of Mayor Richard J. Daley’s machine, which politicized everything from schools to loading zones. Everyone—whether they were civil servants or small business owners—had to pledge loyalty to Da Boss, Hizzoner, or suffer the consequences. As a result, I’ve always gravitated to crime stories with a political element, one showing the effects of big conflicts on regular people. And I’ve written about the same. 

David's book list on political crime fiction

David Hagerty Why did David love this book?

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.

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…


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

Gerard N. Magliocca Author Of American Founding Son: John Bingham and the Invention of the Fourteenth Amendment

From my list on constitutional history.

Who am I?

My books are about American constitutional history, especially the parts or people that are typically overlooked. In these polarized times, there is both wisdom and comfort that can be found in looking at our past. One lesson from looking back is that there was no “golden age” in which Americans all got along. Democracy is sometimes messy, sometimes violent, and almost always involves fierce disagreements. Judged at a distance, there is great drama and great satisfaction in looking at how prior generations addressed their problems. I hope you enjoy the books on my list!

Gerard's book list on constitutional history

Gerard N. Magliocca Why did Gerard love this book?

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. 

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…


Book cover of Leave Your Tears in Moscow

Ursula Wong Author Of Amber Wolf

From my list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about).

Who am I?

I’m a Lithuanian-American with a Chinese name, thanks to my husband. Thirty years ago, I found papers among my uncle’s possessions telling a WWII story about our ancestral Lithuania. I had heard about it in broad terms, but I could hardly believe what I was reading. I spent years validating the material. The result was Amber Wolf, a historical novel about a war within the war: the fight against the Russian occupation of Eastern Europe. While many countries were involved in separate struggles, I focused on Lithuania and their David and Goliath fight against the Russian army. After all this time, the story still moves me.

Ursula's book list on WWII and Eastern Europe (that you may not know about)

Ursula Wong Why did Ursula love this book?

This touching memoir by Barbara Armonas tells the story of her choice to stay in Lithuania during WWII for the sake of her infant son.

It speaks to the toll Mrs. Armonas paid for that decision, including what it took to raise her son in a labor camp. It also looks at the rest of her family who had fled to the US and their efforts to bring her home. Despite the difficulties and trauma, the story ends with an uplifting message of hope and joy for the future.

At its best, this is a tale of love, persistence, perseverance, and forgiveness.

By Barbara Armonas,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Leave Your Tears in Moscow as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Barbara Armonas' 20-year ordeal in the soviet concentration camp system-the dreaded GULAG-is a rare and straightforward story, related with candor and underlying hope that the human spirit can survive any hardship-even the clamps of a vicious totalitarian system. This 50th Anniversary Edition commemorates Barbara's unbreakable spirit, memorializes her extraordinary life-she died three days short of her 100th birthday-and harkens us to actively nurture our freedom-because there still exist forces that challenge it every day. Her account is particularly relevant today as more and more documents of the Stalinist years and the Soviet Union in general become available for public view…


Book cover of Nine, Ten: A September 11 Story

Jacqueline Jules Author Of Smoke at the Pentagon: Poems to Remember

From my list on for ages 8 to 12 about September 11th.

Who am I?

I am the author of over fifty books for young readers including the Zapato Power series, the Sofia Martinez series, My Name is Hamburger, Never Say a Mean Word Again, and Tag Your Dreams: Poems of Play and Persistence. On September 11, 2001, I was living in Arlington, Virginia and working as a librarian. Like anyone else who lived through that tragic day, September 11th evokes strong memories for me. Yet I know that subsequent generations have little knowledge of that day, even those who live in Arlington, where the Pentagon is located.  By recognizing the wounds of the past, we can help young readers understand the present. 

Jacqueline's book list on for ages 8 to 12 about September 11th

Jacqueline Jules Why did Jacqueline love this book?

This novel follows four adolescents in the 48 hours preceding September 11, 2001.

The characters are two girls and two boys living in different parts of the United States in very different families. By fully depicting the lives of each character before the world abruptly changed, Baskin shows us how a watershed event changes one’s perspective forever.

My favorite moment comes at the end when a character remembers “that day, a year ago, when nothing else was important to her except fitting in.” Without violence or direct loss to the main characters, Baskin brings home the point that September 11th affected Americans from all across the country.

In the face of tragedy, Baskin shows us how we are all interconnected.

By Nora Raleigh Baskin,

Why should I read it?

3 authors picked Nine, Ten as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

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…


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

Jeff Byles Author Of Rubble: Unearthing the History of Demolition

From my list on what happens when cities fall apart.

Who am I?

I have been fascinated by cities—in all their glorious, polyglot, and all-too-human complexity—for more than 25 years. I’m a writer, community planner, and urban revitalization consultant who works to activate the potential of distressed places, and create strategies that support social, ecological, and economic vitality. Exploring the often overlooked ways we’ve unbuilt our cities has helped me see their powerful potential.

Jeff's book list on what happens when cities fall apart

Jeff Byles Why did Jeff love this book?

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.

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. This book is for kids age 4, 5, 6, and 7.

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.


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

Paul Willetts Author Of King Con: The Bizarre Adventures of the Jazz Age's Greatest Impostor

From my list on twenty-first century true-crime.

Who am I?

I’m an English nonfiction writer who is, I suppose, best-known for Members Only, my biography of the London strip club owner, theatre impresario, property magnate, and porn baron Paul Raymond, which was adapted into a big-budget movie called The Look of Love. Like many of my books, Members Only strayed into true crime, a genre that has, for all sorts of reasons, been attractive to me as a writer. Probably the most important of those is that it provides the opportunity to tell inherently dramatic stories and to convey a vivid picture of the past, thanks to the wealth of documentation associated with major crimes. 

Paul's book list on twenty-first century true-crime

Paul Willetts Why did Paul love this book?

The extreme length of Fall and Rise put me off until my agent Matthew Hamilton persuaded me to take the plunge.

Just as he’d promised, I found myself deeply engaged in the lives and ultimate fates of Mitchell Zuckoff’s large cast of real-life characters, whose personalities, back-stories, and ambitions are rendered with impressive immediacy.

Of course we already know the outcome of this tragic story, yet the book possesses remarkable narrative dynamism. Hovering over most of its pages is the unnerving question, “Which of these people will survive?”

By Mitchell Zuckoff,

Why should I read it?

2 authors 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…


Book cover of Towers Falling

Jacqueline Jules Author Of Smoke at the Pentagon: Poems to Remember

From my list on for ages 8 to 12 about September 11th.

Who am I?

I am the author of over fifty books for young readers including the Zapato Power series, the Sofia Martinez series, My Name is Hamburger, Never Say a Mean Word Again, and Tag Your Dreams: Poems of Play and Persistence. On September 11, 2001, I was living in Arlington, Virginia and working as a librarian. Like anyone else who lived through that tragic day, September 11th evokes strong memories for me. Yet I know that subsequent generations have little knowledge of that day, even those who live in Arlington, where the Pentagon is located.  By recognizing the wounds of the past, we can help young readers understand the present. 

Jacqueline's book list on for ages 8 to 12 about September 11th

Jacqueline Jules Why did Jacqueline love this book?

Towers Falling takes place in New York City fifteen years after the terrorist attacks.

Fifth grader Deja has no idea what happened in 2001 or the impact it has had on the present. When her teacher begins a unit on September 11th, Deja’s father becomes angry. He doesn’t want Deja to know what happened to the Twin Towers. With the help of classmates, Deja unravels the history of her city and her family.

The perspective of a child learning about the September 11th attacks from the distance of time is made all the more powerful by Deja’s personal circumstances, living in a homeless shelter with an ailing father. This is a poignant story with a strong main character learning to live with the past and move forward. 

By Jewell Parker Rhodes,

Why should I read it?

1 author picked Towers Falling as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it. This book is for kids age 8, 9, 10, and 11.

What is this book about?

When her fifth-grade teacher hints that a series of lessons about home and community will culminate with one big answer about two tall towers once visible outside their classroom window, Deja can't help but feel confused. She sets off on a journey of discovery, with new friends Ben and Sabeen by her side. But just as she gets closer to answering big questions about who she is, what America means, and how communities can grow (and heal), she uncovers new questions, too. Like, why does Pop get so angry when she brings up anything about the towers?

Award-winning author Jewell…


5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in September 11th, terrorism, and paranoia?

10,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about September 11th, terrorism, and paranoia.

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