10 books like Vanity Fair

By William Makepeace Thackeray,

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

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Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Brontë, Charlotte Brontë,

Book cover of Jane Eyre

Jane Eyre is a book I read and teach at least once a year. Its early section about childhood is, for me, the archetype of all impossible childhoods. Jane is orphaned, misunderstood, oppressed by the awful relatives who take her in, and abused by officials of Lowood School, the institution they palm her off on. Deprivation and hunger are the daily facts of her life. Humiliation, physical “punishment,” and the threat of hell are used to control her fellow wards. She is not so easily controlled. She watches while some of her fellow children, including her beloved friend Helen Burns, die because of infections caused by unhygienic conditions and malnutrition.

Despite it all, she retains an authenticity, a sense of herself that she refuses to violate to curry favor or reduce the harshness of her treatment. She remains a truth-teller, a natural detector of the pompous and hypocritical. She questions…

Jane Eyre

By Charlotte Brontë, Charlotte Brontë,

Why should I read it?

24 authors picked Jane Eyre as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Introduction and Notes by Dr Sally Minogue, Canterbury Christ Church University College.

Jane Eyre ranks as one of the greatest and most perennially popular works of English fiction. Although the poor but plucky heroine is outwardly of plain appearance, she possesses an indomitable spirit, a sharp wit and great courage.

She is forced to battle against the exigencies of a cruel guardian, a harsh employer and a rigid social order. All of which circumscribe her life and position when she becomes governess to the daughter of the mysterious, sardonic and attractive Mr Rochester.

However, there is great kindness and warmth…


The Talented Mr. Ripley

By Patricia Highsmith,

Book cover of The Talented Mr. Ripley

This suspense novel is a leader in the field of deceptive protagonists. Ripley adapts another’s persona alongside his own, but even as he plays both roles he knows that it will all have to end at some point. He is aware of what he’s doing, yet this is coupled with great self-deception: ‘I’m a good person really.’ His vulnerability is shown in his fear of being judged. At heart he is a lonely man, driven by obsession and jealousy. Ripley is a complex, well-drawn character - I’d love to see his personality profile!

The Talented Mr. Ripley

By Patricia Highsmith,

Why should I read it?

12 authors picked The Talented Mr. Ripley as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

It's here, in the first volume of Patricia Highsmith's five-book Ripley series, that we are introduced to the suave Tom Ripley, a young striver seeking to leave behind his past as an orphan bullied for being a "sissy." Newly arrived in the heady world of Manhattan, Ripley meets a wealthy industrialist who hires him to bring his playboy son, Dickie Greenleaf, back from gallivanting in Italy. Soon Ripley's fascination with Dickie's debonair lifestyle turns obsessive as he finds himself enraged by Dickie's ambivalent affections for Marge, a charming American dilettante, and Ripley begins a deadly game. "Sinister and strangely alluring"…


Persuasion

By Jane Austen,

Book cover of Persuasion

There is recourse to the enduring classic and Jane Austen’s Persuasion has to be the favourite. The opening chapters depict the lonely figure of Anne, the middle sister of three, who has lost her bloom, struggling to live well at a time when her future, and her family’s, is precarious has the all the melancholy of lost hope and neglected chances. This is a novel where the spectre of autumn hovers. Yet, as the plot progresses, the spectre lifts and is chased away and Anne moves towards a late blooming. As a young woman, she was persuaded to turn down marriage to Captain Wentworth. Now, her good sense, her good qualities, and her experience and intelligence persuade her otherwise.

The Anne who emerges is hardly passive and she grasps at her second chance with both hands. Woven into this portrait of a woman’s renaissance is Jane Austen’s deliciously acerbic observation,…

Persuasion

By Jane Austen,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'In Persuasion, Jane Austen is beginning to discover that the world is larger, more mysterious, and more romantic than she had supposed' Virginia Woolf

Jane Austen's moving late novel of missed opportunities and second chances centres on Anne Elliot, no longer young and with few romantic prospects. Eight years earlier, she was persuaded by others to break off her engagement to poor, handsome naval captain Frederick Wentworth. What happens when they meet again is movingly told in Austen's last completed novel. Set in the fashionable societies of Lyme Regis and Bath, Persuasion is a brilliant satire of vanity and pretension,…


Middlemarch

By George Eliot,

Book cover of Middlemarch

As was the fashion of the time, George Eliot took on a male pseudonym, replacing her true name, Mary Ann Evans. Typically she extended her subterfuge by writing about male characters whose names figured into the titles of her novels, e.g. Silas Marner, Adam Bede, Felix Holt the Radical, and Daniel Deronda. She had strong female characters, too, but it wasn't until her penultimate novel, Middlemarch, that she granted a female character, Dorothea, the center stage. There are male characters in this book, too: Dorothea's husband, the pedantic scholar, Casaubon, the physician, Lydgate, and of course the man whom Dorothea marries once Casaubon has died, Will Ladislaw. This is a historical novel, some forty years removed from its publication date. In it, Eliot regularly crosses the boundaries between female and male characters.    

Middlemarch

By George Eliot,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

One of the BBC's '100 Novels That Shaped Our World'

'One of the few English novels written for grown-up people' Virginia Woolf

George Eliot's nuanced and moving novel is a masterly evocation of connected lives, changing fortunes and human frailties in a provincial community. Peopling its landscape are Dorothea Brooke, a young idealist whose search for intellectual fulfilment leads her into a disastrous marriage to the pedantic scholar Casaubon; Dr Lydgate, whose pioneering medical methods, combined with an imprudent marriage to the spendthrift beauty Rosamond, threaten to undermine his career; and the religious hypocrite Bulstrode, hiding scandalous crimes from his…


Gone Girl

By Gillian Flynn,

Book cover of Gone Girl

She likes to do the same as me: Take the structure of a potboiler/page-turner and see how far below the surface you can go. It's a contemporary, accessible, entertaining thriller—but so much more. There are lots of layers to this juicy tome, and it's insanely well-written. Keeps you thinking long after finishing. The movie’s pretty good too!

Gone Girl

By Gillian Flynn,

Why should I read it?

16 authors picked Gone Girl as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

THE ADDICTIVE No.1 BESTSELLER AND INTERNATIONAL PHENOMENON
OVER 20 MILLION COPIES SOLD WORLDWIDE
THE BOOK THAT DEFINES PSYCHOLOGICAL THRILLER

Who are you?
What have we done to each other?

These are the questions Nick Dunne finds himself asking on the morning of his fifth wedding anniversary, when his wife Amy suddenly disappears. The police suspect Nick. Amy's friends reveal that she was afraid of him, that she kept secrets from him. He swears it isn't true. A police examination of his computer shows strange searches. He says they weren't made by him. And then there are the persistent calls on…


Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

By Anita Loos,

Book cover of Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

This novel is hilarious. When I first read it, I was jealous that I hadn't written itwhich is a silly feeling to have about a book that came out in the 1920s, I admit. It's a diary written by a blonde showgirl named Lorelei Lee, who uses her feminine wiles to get wealth from the gentlemen callers who want to "educate" her. Loralei isn't very smartthe diary is riddled with misspellings and confused assumptionsbut she has a kind of innocence and practicality that keeps you rooting for her throughout. With her friend Dorothy, a brunette, she arranges it so that everything always works out in her favor, which usually includes lots and lots of diamond jewelry. 

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes

By Anita Loos,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked Gentlemen Prefer Blondes as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Gentlemen Prefer Blondes: The Intimate Diary of a Professional Lady (1925) is a novel by Anita Loos. Adapted from a series of stories written for Harper's Bazaar, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes was an astounding success for Loos, who had mired for over a decade as a screenwriter in Hollywood and New York. An immediate bestseller, the novel earned praise from leading writers and critics of its time, and has been adapted several times for theater and film. Recognized as a defining text of the Jazz Age, Gentlemen Prefer Blondes is an absolute classic dubbed "the great American novel" by Edith Wharton.…


The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

By Stieg Larsson,

Book cover of The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

Lisbeth Salander is, for me, one of the most kick-ass characters in crime mystery fiction and, ever since Stieg Larsson wrote her, clones have been popping up everywhere in books and film. I like that she is seen as a misfit and an outcast, victimised and brutalised by the establishment, who is often misjudged as being stupid, worthless, weak, but who is in fact, acutely intelligent, insightful, and someone not to be messed with—a gutsy fighter who refuses to quit. For me, it's Salander who makes the Millenium trilogy such a dynamic series, and the first time I came across her it was absolutely refreshing to meet such an empowered female character in crime fiction.

The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo

By Stieg Larsson,

Why should I read it?

15 authors picked The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

Forty years ago, Harriet Vanger disappeared from a family gathering on the island owned and inhabited by the powerful Vanger clan. Her body was never found, yet her uncle is convinced it was murder - and that the killer is a member of his own tightly-knit but dysfunctional family.

He employs disgraced financial journalist Mikael Blomkvist and the tattooed, truculent computer hacker Lisbeth Salander to investigate. When the pair link Harriet's disappearance to a number of grotesque murders from forty years ago, they begin to unravel a dark and appalling family history.

But the Vangers are a secretive clan, and…


The Warden

By Anthony Trollope,

Book cover of The Warden

A short book even by our standards, The Warden was Trollope’s first novel. He went on to write forty-seven more, as many short stories and nonfiction books as well, all while working as an important official with the Royal Mail. I love Trollope’s books because he was a master at creating life-like characters who may be filled with flaws, but are always portrayed with loving humour. While The Warden is about a controversy over how the Church of England manages a poor house, the story is carried by the complex people and relationships at the centre of the squabble. This is the first book in the Chronicle of Barsetshire series which spins out the lives of these characters across decades.

The Warden

By Anthony Trollope,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

The Warden introduces us to the lives of some of the most beloved characters in all literature.

Part of the Macmillan Collector's Library; a series of stunning, clothbound, pocket sized classics with gold foiled edges and ribbon markers. These beautiful books make perfect gifts or a treat for any book lover. This edition has an introduction by Margaret Drabble and illustrations by F. C. Tilney.

Scandal strikes the peaceful cathedral town of Barchester when Septimus Harding, the warden of charitable foundation Hiram's Hospital, is accused of financial wrongdoing. A kindly and naive man, he finds himself caught between the forces…


New Grub Street

By George Gissing,

Book cover of New Grub Street

Gissing is forgotten now because he was a realist working in romantic times. Fiction writers were the rock stars of Victorian England. New Grub Street explores the other side of the coin: the vast number of struggling writers who hankered after the fame and fortune that was never to be theirs. At the heart of the story are two friends, the pragmatic materialist Jasper Milvain and the talented but idealistic Edward Reardon. The modest success of one novel prompts Readon to marry, saddling him with an overwhelming financial burden that crushes his talent. Milvain values money over everything else in life at a time when everything else in life depends on money. I found Gissing’s hard-boiled novel touching because, without flinching, he shows the inner conflicts of people trapped by circumstance.

New Grub Street

By George Gissing,

Why should I read it?

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

What is this book about?

'Because one book had a sort of success he imagined his struggles were over.'

Scholarly, anxious Edwin Reardon had achieved a precarious career as the writer of serious fiction. On the strength of critical acclaim for his fourth novel, he has married the refined Amy Yule. But the brilliant future Amy expected has evaded her husband. The catastrophe of the Reardon's failing marriage is set among the rising and falling fortunes of novelists, journalists, and scholars who labour 'in the valley of the shadow of books'.

George Gissing's New Grub Street was written at breakneck speed in the autumn of…


The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain

By Ian Mortimer,

Book cover of The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain

A cultural tour de force, this book includes everything you could ever wish to know about the Georgian era, although it does specifically stick to its latter years (1789-1830). It is a deeply informative read yet the author maintains a lively and engaging tone throughout as he covers a wide range of topics such as the landscape of Regency Britain, travel, law and order, as well as entertainment, health, and sexuality, so it’s just perfect for any reader unfamiliar with the period. In fact, it’s perfect for anyone who already is. Established writers of the genre will surely pick up something new by reading it.

The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain

By Ian Mortimer,

Why should I read it?

2 authors picked The Time Traveller's Guide to Regency Britain as one of their favorite books, and they share why you should read it.

What is this book about?

'Excellent... Mortimer's erudition is formidable' The Times

A time of exuberance, thrills, frills and unchecked bad behaviour...Ian Mortimer turns to what is arguably the most-loved period in British history - the Regency, or Georgian England.

This is the age of Jane Austen and the Romantic poets; the paintings of John Constable and the gardens of Humphry Repton; Britain's military triumphs at Trafalgar and Waterloo. It was perhaps the last age of true freedom before the arrival of the stifling world of Victorian morality.

And like all periods in history, it was an age of many contradictions - where Beethoven's thundering…


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